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All Education Commentary

The End of College?

Kevin Carey's new book The End of College takes a close look at America's flawed higher education business model. In an interview with Inside Higher Ed, Carey cites the ideas of TCF senior fellow Richard Kahlenberg, a vocal advocate against university policies that often benefit America's wealthier students.

As Rick Kahlenberg of the Century Foundation likes to note, the American Revolution "was fought in large measure to rid ourselves of aristocracy and inherited privilege." Yet those ideas and systems continue to corrupt college admissions over two centuries later.

Check out the rest of the interview at Inside Higher Ed.

Tags: wealthy, richard kahlenberg, higher education, college admissions

Legacy Status Tips Admission Scales

Many top universities admit a sizeable percentage of their student body on the basis of those students receiving "legacy preference." TCF fellow Richard Kahlenberg, a longtime critic of the practice, commented on legacy admissions, pointing out its flaws and the fundamental unfairness of the system.

In an op-ed in The New York Times in May 2013 titled “Affirmative Action for the Rich,” Kahlenberg voiced his opposition to the policy, decrying it as inherently “un-American” and particularly privileging affluent families.

“In other walks of life, we would consider it absurd to add points to a candidate’s application based on lineage, and legacies in higher education may soon come to an end as well,” Kahlenberg wrote in the op-ed.

Read more on what Kahlenberg had to say about the practice that he's called "affirmative action for the rich" in The Hoya.

Tags: richard kahlenberg, legacy admissions, college students, affirmative action for the rich, affirmative action, admissions

Fewer College Grads? Blame Politicians, Professor Says

TCF fellow and Cornell professor Suzanne Mettler spoke with Don Marsh of St. Louis Public Radio on the rates at which young adults are finishing their degrees and how those rates have changed over the past few decades. She says that "political squabbling" is to blame for impeding progress that Congress could have made in terms of student loan policy and improving access overall to higher education.

More students than ever go to college, but it’s only those who come from the top quarter of the income spectrum who are very likely to finish their degree within six years — by age 24,” she said. “For people in the bottom 75 percent, the results are very poor and they’ve hardly increased since the 1970s.

Listen to Mettler's discussion and read the rest of the commentary here.

Tags: student loans, student debt, college tuition, college graduation

Student Aid Bill of Rights Is a Win for Economic Mobility

TCF fellow Halley Potter explores how President Obama's new Student Aid Bill of Rights lays out a set of principles for making student borrowing fairer and more affordable.

Tags: student loans, student aid, obama, executive action, economic mobility, college tuition

Immobile in America

TCF fellow Rick Kahlenberg reviews author Robert Putnam's work, Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis. Kahlenberg explains how Putnam describes the gaps in class and race, as well as how these gaps take effect on an individual's education and future accessibility to success.

One study Putnam cites finds that after controlling for family and academic background and school inputs, students who attend a high school with classmates from a high socioeconomic status have a 68 percent higher probability of enrolling in a four year college than a student who attends a school where classmates have a low socioeconomic status.

Read Kahlenberg's full review.

Tags: socioeconomic diversity, race inequality, class segregation

At Sororities, Likeness Becomes Alikeness

Hearing the term "greek nepotism" typically conjures thoughts of brothers pulling strings to get a spot in a fraternity house. But what happens when "greek nepotism" extends past the college community and into the Supreme Court or boardroom of a Fortune 500 company? Combine this issue with the fact that fraternities and sororities are highly askew when it comes to racial diversity, and some serious issues come into play, says TCF policy associate Clio Chang.

Take the University of Alabama, for example. The school was put on the hot seat in 2013 when the university’s newspaper brought to national attention that Kennedi Cobb, an all-around perfect potential new member – minus the fact that she was black – didn’t receive a single bid from any of the 16 sororities on campus. In it’s entire history, the universities's sororities had only previously admitted a single black member.

Read Chang's full article from US News & World Report.

Tags: sororities, race-based admissions, nepotism, greek life, fraternities




Most K-12 education reforms are about trying to make "separate but equal" schools for rich and poor work well. The results of these efforts have been discouraging. The Century Foundation looks at ways to integrate public schools by economic status through public school choice. At the higher education level, we examine ways to open the doors of selective and non-selective institutions to students of modest means.

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